Thanks to the proliferation of new media and online social engagement it has become easier and more cost effective to reach consumers. But, at the same time, it has become more difficult to connect with them. For all the new opportunities to communicate, it is actually becoming harder for brands to be seen and heard.
With so many companies interacting with its customers via social media, the competition for share of mind can become daunting.
The great promise of social media is the opportunity to engage with more consumers one-to-one. But as brands achieve scale in their social media initiatives, this promise becomes more and more elusive. The increasing focus on quantity vs quality of followers can leave the most loyal fans feeling marginalized and under-appreciated.
For most companies, there comes a time when brand recognition and virtual engagement is not enough. Live experiences become necessary to cement consumer bonds, inspire brand advocacy and demonstrate customer appreciation. Eventually, a brand and its customers must meet face-to-face.
It’s a lot like online dating. No matter how “engaged” the couple may be online, eventually they need to meet in person if they want to create a meaningful connection. It’s the same for brands. Tactile opportunities where people can see, touch and experience the brand live can deepen and enhance relationships.
But to be successful, live events and experiences must be strategically coordinated with other marketing activities. Product launches, trade shows, receptions, media events, performances, pop-up stores, demonstrations, etc. should be seamlessly integrated with social media, public relations, advertising and other marketing initiatives in order to present a singular brand persona to the consumer.
It is staggering how many companies develop events without a strategy or without any regard for the overall marketing plan of the company. Quite often, an event can take on a life of its own and advance past a point of no return even if it is discovered along the way that it does not meet even the most basic brand criteria. Trade show commitments are made and displays commissioned with little or no coordination with marketing or brand managers. It’s not unusual for events to have no resemblance to other brand communications beyond the logo and color scheme -- instead deferring to the imagination of party planners and display builders rather than to the marketing professionals charged with dutifully stewarding brands.
The result can at best be a wasted opportunity and at worst an event that is detrimental to the brand.
The failure to adhere to marketing plans or to co-opt other marketing programs to enhance or even drive live events can easily be avoided with just a little inventiveness and some thoughtful coordination.
There are countless ways, for example, to integrate social media and live events...from invitations to live streaming, posting and tweets from the event, to shared fan experiences and more. But first you have to make events a part of the marketing process and subject to the same set of rules.